This post, via its title, is dedicated to the memory of Heath Ledger.
Let me say this. It was this episode that solidified my love for this show. I’d been watching the previews, all the behind-the-scenes stuff, for quite awhile, and was excited about the prospect of this show. And I definitely liked the first two episodes, but the jury was out. The whole thing could rely on clichés and stereotypes and time travel references like Don’t remark about ‘some kind of magical machine that just makes copies’ in the pilot. Marriage of Figaro showed me that I didn’t have a clue as to what to expect. That this show felt like nothing I’d ever experienced before, that it wasn’t fucking around, that it was on its own ride, and yeah, I was along for it.
1. I love Rachel’s reaction to the chicken. While she herself resembles some kind of bizarre Gertrude McFuzz in that hat.
2. I love Rachel’s response to finding out Don is married. There are some who take issue with the fact that she jumped from one kiss to committed relationship, but I think she had it right; there was nothing casual about their connection. He says Don’t try to convince me that you were ever unloved. So her response of Well then am I supposed to live some life running alongside yours? to me, was so grounded. How many women would just close their eyes, kiss him again, and pretend it will all somehow work out? I saw right there (and not for the first time) what a whole, together woman she is.
3. I love that Don and Betty are fine. Through the entire morning of the party, when it is so obvious to us, because we are culturally informed, that every time Betty mentions the cake or any other chore, (and later the movie camera), she is actually freaking out and really wants to lunge, she remains sweet and composed. And with every request from Betty, we know that Don is a pressure cooker. But he never shows it. He remains good-natured (look how he handles the powder room moment). Rachel’s presence leads to what happens later, but this interaction… this is their life together. And they keep it terribly pleasant. (This starts to shift after a lot of drinks; see #7.)
4. I love that the birthday party has NOTHING to do with the kids. Betty prepares a killer spread, but it’s for the adults; she just puts out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the children. It is a party for the grownups; the kids are hardly an afterthought. There was supposed to be a clown, but they couldn’t get him, so the kids just run around inside and outside, playing on their own, with no planned activities. They are barely introduced to the adults, and that is reflected back to us, as they are also barely introduced to us, the audience.
5. I love Helen Bishop. What’s not to love? She reminds me of Rachel; she has killer foresight and the balls to speak on it (she puts that slimeball Carlton in his place, and fast). And she is liquid killer sexy, also like Rachel.
6. I love that after his kid is slapped by someone who isn’t him, after he asks ‘do you want some more’ (hitting), Carlton then tells his son to go get his mother to clean up the mess he made. His hugely pregnant mother, I might add.
7. Don has four beers before the party, by my count. Then drinks throughout, like everyone. He starts to become visibly affected when he is filming the party; this is when he finally appears agitated as well. I love that sitting on top of the cake box on the front passenger seat is an empty plastic cup… he had brought his drink with him for the ride to to HiTop.
8. I love what sounds to my unresearched ear as the anachronistic, We haven’t done birthday cake. (Nancy says this after her husband Chet suggests that they leave. Chet then follows with There’s not gonna be a cake. Am I the only one that knows that?)
9. I love that Betty’s hands, very subtlely, looks like they have gone numb while she is trying to cut the sorry looking frozen Sara Lee pie birthday cake thing.
10. What I love about this episode, what shocked and dismayed me upon the initial viewing, was that we stayed in Ossining. The first portion of the show was in and around Madison Avenue, and I assumed that it would go back there. I kept waiting for the scenes from the party to cut back into Monday at the office. It never did. It was… excruciating. I wanted to go back. This was awful. I felt like I was suffocating in this horrible world. And like I said, this was the moment when I recognized that this was unlike anything I’d ever seen on television before, and that I would never be able to predict where this show was going to take me, week after week.
Oh and fine. I can’t keep it to ten. I mean, I didn’t even mention Don at the train. But…
11) I love Don in his t-shirt building that playhouse. I’d offer to shower with him, too.